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BY LISA SHAKER-KNOPP (LOWFATLOWCARB.COM)

First, let me say that I LOVE my coffee! Although in my weight loss journey, I had to learn to drink it black to save on calories, especially from carbohydrates. That being said, there is a huge debate over whether or not drinking coffee helps our weight loss efforts or hurts it?

There are two sides to the caffeine and weight-loss debate. As you know, caffeine is a stimulant. This means that your metabolism will speed up and you’ll burn more calories. That sounds good, right? However, It’s also a diuretic, which will help you lose water weight in the short-term, and therefore is dehydrating. Additionally, other research also shows that drinking many cups of coffee can also raise blood sugar, which will raise insulin levels to convert the extra sugars into body fat. Caffeine may also stimulate appetite and cravings, making weight loss more difficult. That’s the bad news.

There are also some known side effects of too much caffeine including insomnia, heart palpitations and the jitters. The negative consequences of too much caffeine may outweigh the benefits of thermogenesis (fat burning).

Too much caffeine is discouraged on low carb diets for two reasons. First, because of the belief that caffeine adversely affects blood sugar which will lead to sugar cravings. And second, although most people assume coffee is carb-free, it is not. A 6-ounce serving of coffee has .8 grams of carb. Because the FDA allows manufacturers to round down on Nutrition Facts labels, most products say they contain 0 carbs. So the average 16-ounce coffee actually contains more than 2 grams of carbs, and that does not include any carbohydrates from the “cream/ or milk” you may use, or the sweetener you add.

Again, when clients say they are not ‘cheating’ on the protocol, this is one of those hidden sugars that might slow down the progress. It is all of these little choices that add up and make the body resistant to change.

Blood sugar, also known as glucose, determines if your body stores fat or burns it as energy. When blood sugar is elevated, your pancreas produces insulin, which moves the sugar to the cells. A surge in insulin tells your body there is plenty of glucose and to start storing it. The danger is that this surge will cause too much sugar to be stored and leave you feeling tired, hungry and craving more sugar, which is the beginning of a vicious cycle of craving and eating more than your body actually uses, leading to weight gain.

Although caffeine has some positive effects, such as allowing us to exercise longer or harder, overall the negative effects outweigh the benefits. The effect of caffeine on blood sugar is unhealthy and can lead to Type 2 diabetes.

I am not giving up my cup of java in the morning anytime soon, but I am switching over to less coffee, and more water (that is the best choice) and some hot herbal teas to replace my afternoon cup (or two).

How many cups of coffee do you drink per day?